Introduction to the CPC Demoscene
Michael Kargas aka Optimus/Dirty Minds
This is the first article I've ever written for Hugi. I had many other articles in my mind to write in various mags, but I always lacked time, and I have many projects at this moment, like writing articles for some CPC papermags, working on my webpages, making gfx and learning some coding. Anyway..
Usually I find a motive for working for some of my projects I left. So the motive for writing this article was first that I wanted to finally introduce the CPC demoscene to various sceners and second that the first version of my page dedicated to her is finished! It was the best time to write this article.
I wanted to introduce our scene through your diskmag, because I think that the CPC scene is more underground than the other 8bit scenes. The C64 and Spectrum have various parties with many demo releases, they have some websites where a newbie can learn which demos were the best to download, which emulators and tools are needed, etc. Well, we on CPC also have some ftps, websites with news about new CPC prods and some group pages (but many of them are written in French language!), but I felt that we were not so organized on the net, so that another scener could easily find infos about our scene. And I felt that there isn't a page dedicated especially to the Demo-scene of our beloved machine. A page which will be the center of the CPC demoscene, where you will be able to find many interesting infos about the groups, the productions, the history of our scene, etc. That's why I built my CPC page, which I will introduce at the end. Another reason why I wanted to write this article is that our scene seems a little dead in many countries. And it's not that big like C64 or Spectrum. I just wanted to introduce you the scene, perhaps we could get new people interested in our scene, but if not, at least some people would be very interested to see how demos look like on CPC, or what is today's condition of the CPC demoscene. (Some non-CPC people asked me if the CPC scene is dead and some others sent me feedback on this page, especially about the screenshots of CPC demos!)
Ok, enough with this big introduction of my article. I will start talking about some old history of the CPC scene, about its present condition in each country, useful diskmags to read, some useful links, perhaps some other things and a small introduction to my CPC page. I have only to say here that I am a very new scener, so I still don't know many things about the old scene.
The very old CPC scene is totally unknown to me. There were some simple demos even from 1987 which were made by unknown groups. Perhaps it was cracking groups that started the whole demomania on CPC. The real CPC scene started after 1990. The legendary french group called THE LOGON SYSTEM ruled the scene in these times. They are very famous for their megademo THE DEMO which featured many new hardware-based effects! Even today it is in the charts, even if many people now find it boring, because they prefer software effects. I don't know which other famous groups existed at that time. It is sure that the coders had found many great new hardware effects to make better scrollers, with more colours, to have different resolutions on the same screen, to expand their graphics on the border of the screen, or too make some nice looking (but now boring!) rasters. That was cool in the older times, but the coders insisted on making the same effects, and it was getting boring to watch the same stuff in demos again.
In 1992 a new demo from a German coder called Face Hugger was the revolution for the CPC scene. The demo was called Face Hugger Ultimate Megademo and it featured many cool software effects never seen before like vectorballs, flat filled 3d objects, a very neat picture displayed with a strange technique (like some C64 images which tremble to seem like they have a higher resolution and more colours), a compressed video file, etc. The creator of this demo complained that most CPC demos were getting boring and that was the reason why he decided to release this unique demo. He made all the demo himself, especially the coding and the graphics! Still from 1992, I have to see flat 3d objects in a CPC demo! Or that strange technique with the image! At the same time a very famous democoder from Austria, Elmar Krieger, coded the technically best game I have ever seen on a CPC. It is a Pang-clone and too many big balls are bouncing on the screen very smoothly! (He had also created a demo called Chain, which crashes in a part due to a bad sector on the disk. It contains a very huge sprite running smoothly and maybe some other neat stuff after that part! But my friend Antitec said that the wrong version was uploaded on the ftp and nobody can find the right one!!!)
It was after 1993 when Logon System quitted the scene. They had just released a preview of some parts for a demo they would make. One was a very neat 9+ parallax scroller with gfx from Shadow of the Beast! (You have to see that on an emulator Vsynced or better on a real CPC with CRTC0!!!) At that time the German people took over the CPC scene! Legendary groups like BENG! or Prodatron made some very cool demos. Especially the very good Voyage93 demo, which featured many software 3d parts! (Watch especially Face Hugger's and Alien's 3d part!) But at the same time some new cool French guys joined the scene. I Especially have to mention Antoine Pitru, who made many cool new software effects (he was too bored of hardware scroller demos..). Gozeur was famous because he was the inventor of some wabbling plasmas done in a hardware way in 1995. Odiesoft was another cool German coder whose prods I like a lot. He made some cool software effects in Divine Megademo together with Antoine and Mage of Garbage Performers. There must be many more sceners at that time I may have to mention but I don't know so many..
In older times, there were some French groups that are leading the scene today, like Arkos, Mortel and Overlanders. Arkos are making the very good Demoniak diskmag (see especially the 6th issue with a very cool intro and good interface. Issue 7 lacks gfx, but it's currently the best diskmag to be informed about the CPC scene, because most things come from France today and it's the only(?) French mag written in the English language!). Well, today only the French scene is still strong, but we have seen some cool prods from other countries after 1997, like Unique demo from a Danish coder called NWC (I forgot to tell you that he had done some really cool demos in 1990-1991 I think, which remained on the charts of that epoch which is very unknown to me. Someone told me that he must be the first guy who coded a demo with hardware effects on CPC!). Bollaware was the last group that left the German scene after releasing a Street Fighter clone in 2000, featuring a very cool intro with great gfx and animations from uncle Siggi! They are mainly famous for the too many CPC games they have coded but they also made some really nice demos, more because of gfx and design than coding.
Famous groups and people today in the CPC scene are Arkos, Mortel, Overlanders and other french groups which I may forget, NWC, the danish democoder (who coded the very cool UNIQUE demo in 1998, but it must be his last production on the CPC..), Bollaware team, who left the scene too, Odiesoft (the German coder who made the Megablasters game in 1998 I think, but it's also very possible that he will not work on a new demo in the future), and Jack, a new French coder, who made a small demo with some very nice software effects in it (I can't wait for a new demo from him!). Overlanders surprised us with the best demo ever on CPC, Ecole Buissoniere, with many new software effects like plasmas, rotozoomers, distortion, texture mapping in a big area (for CPC :)) of the screen! (At last C64-like state of the art demos on our CPC and not boring scrollers!!!)
What is different in the CPC scene compared to other scenes? First there were many demos with menus to choose a part to see! (Like on Atari ST.) Secondly you watched a part (which was usually some scroller and hardware effects in one screen) and then went back to the menu. No trackmo style demos, with continuous music, transmissions, etc. Perhaps it was not that easy to load while playing music on CPC, I don't know. Even today many hardware scroller demos are released. And I am not talking only about the effects themselves (hardware scrollers and rasters and not neat software effects like on C64) but also about the design. (A scroller-like demo is a part of various hardware effects and a writer on the same screen and you press Escape to load the other entirely new but boring scroller, or to go in a menu where you choose it!) But I see some good software demos out there. Some new people prefer software demos, without menus or entirely different parts!
Another difference is that the CPC demoscene really existed in only a few countries, mainly France and Germany, and then prehaps Greece and UK. Perhaps also countries like Denmark or Austria are worth mentioning, where there were few people interested in the scene, but they produced amazing demos! There were some other countries in the older times which had few sceners, like Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Spain and Belgium! But the most known countries are the first four. France is the only strong one this time. They have their big scene, many groups, they are working for many cool new prods (but nothing has been released for a long time..), they have some meetings like Ze Meeting 2000 and most diskmags and papermags today, but most of them are in French language! They are acting as if the whole CPC scene belonged to them..
And it is actually(!), because the German scene is dead. There exist only some people who are not coding demos anymore (someone has coded FutureOS7, a new OS for CPC and some others may do some other works on CPC), but just laming on the internet. And the other scenes (UK and Greece) are not that strong as the French one. In Greece for example there were 3 groups. Two of them are inactive and the main coder of Dirty Minds is thinking about leaving the scene after releasing Ovation6! The UK scene is a little interesting. UK people were not like the other sceners the older time, they were using the CPC for more serious work, because the CPC was still living in that country a long time ago. They were later interested in our underground scene when the CPC was really dead. The most famous coder is CRTC and I am awaiting a demo from him called Palatine. There is also an English team doing the BTL fanzine. And Kev Thacker, the coder of Arnold emulator, is going to release two CPC+ demos (Oh, hell.. I have to do gfx for him!!! But I hope he transfers something from the PC, because I lack time.. Or I am just bored?) So only the French scene is still strong. (And that's one reason why I wrote this article, I hoped to make some new people interested in the CPC scene. :))
Another interesting difference of our scene is that we don't have party compos. At least I have almost never heard of that, and I cannot find results or productions from CPC parties. The parties are just meetings of CPC sceners. They may release a new demo or some previews there, and sometimes each scener brings a part or codes something at the party place and they produce a 'Bordelick meeting 4 demo' let's say! So, you don't have to wait for a party to see a demo released! (Although there is a lot of inactivity in our scene and we don't see releases too often. I don't know what it was like in older times, but it must have been much better, when I see 600+ CPC demos on the ftp!) Another thing that seems nice to me, is that there is still some mailswapping. Antitec of Dirty Minds has shown me his drawer full of letters from the older time until today! Amazing. Perhaps I should try to mailswap with some guys, to get this great feeling of it! (However, my friend believes that Internet has killed that great thing, he doesn't get many letters anymore, and even though people have an internet connection, everybody is laming on the internet and expects to see prods from the others, instead of coding some new prods themselves..) Final, apart from Diskmags we also have Papermags! I haven't heard about Papermags in other scenes, I don't know if there exists something like that in any other scene! They are just mags on paper, usually they have very few pages, because paper is expensive, and they are sold for very cheap prices and delivered through snailmail. They are paper mags talking about the CPC scene! I almost haven't ever read such a mag, but I am awaiting to get Eurostrad into my hands now..
Lot of news are coming from the French scene. Let's see what I am waiting for. I was waiting for a big demo by Arkos called Demoizart. They even said that there would be some design from Amiga and PC demos in it! Mortel would also make a megademo called Virus. They decided to connect the two demos in one big megademo! There must be more than 12 parts! I just don't remember how many parts each demo had, I must have read it somewhere. Mortel has also almost finished a slideshow called NO REALITY and I except two diskmags from them. TNT will make a new issue of BOXON diskmag, BOXON4. The brothers Tom and Hick who make a papermag called Another World are working on one game each! I am also waiting for Croco Channel Demo (I think that Croco Channel was a meeting..), they say that it's very impressive. Overlanders who did the very amazing Ecole Buissoniere demo may release 2 demos in the near future. There are many other news of future projects in the French diskmags, like some new Soundtrakkers, the fastest player ever on CPC by Madram and Shap, two French and two Belgium newcomers and perhaps other stuff. And of course I am expecting a demo from the newcomer called Jack. Lots of news from the French scene! From the English side I wait for Kev Thacker's demos and Palatine demo from CRTC. And I think that there will be a new issue of BTL (But when? I would like to learn some news from England!). From the German side? I am waiting for new freaks to start democoding on CPC! There are no news.. From the Greek side? What made me sad, was the split of the group SOB. It was a new founded group on CPC, with 6 members, including 2 coders, who had already coded some parts of various projects! So I was waiting for various stuff, a diskmag, some demos, a slideshow!!! And they split up because of a fight! Perhaps Odium, the main coder, could release the stuff he made. From Dirty Minds, our group, expect Ovation 6. Our 'A step beyond' megademo will never be released. One part from it, if not more, will be in Ovation6. The part will be called 'Last Significant Byte' or 'A step to fall'. :) Antitec will be inactive after this release and perhaps I will make solo demos, except if someone from the greek scene gets obsessed of what I do and wants to start again. So, you see today's condition of the CPC scene. If we continue like this, then our French friends out there will write all of their diskmags in French language without having to worry about it. ;)
But I am thinking positive sometimes. The French scene will never die! And about the other scenes. I see that I am expecting some nice stuff from the English scene. I am starting to believe that if someone from a country releases something cool, then there may be newcomers in that scene! (Well, you will tell me, do you expect newcomers using an old machine in 2000? I hope that there are some crazy people like me who decided to join the CPC scene in 1999!) If the scene in some country is big, then new people will want to join the scene! At least that's what another guy says in his diskmag and I hope this is true. But I believe that if I release some cool stuff on CPC, perhaps some inactive people in Greece may become too obsessed and want to start again! It's a motivation! I try to think positive about our scene. The French are still living, some new demos are coming from England and I've tried to make the CPC demoscene more known through the internet to the other, non-CPC sceners (CPC Links on Scenet, my webpage, which I tried to put a link to on Orange Juice, some other CPC pages, etc.).
Now let's give some links and other useful stuff to be informed about our scene:
Genesis8bit. This is a site where you can read news about any new release in the scene! If you are waiting for the release of almost any new demo or diskmag, then this is your link.
The ftp full of CPC demos. Actually this is owned by the guy who also has the Genesis8bit site.
Ottolinks. Every link you ever wanted about CPC! It's not only about Demos but for every other page with CPC infos!
The page of Arkos demogroup. Get Demoniak diskmag! It's the only French diskmag written in English as far as I know (except if Boxon4 will be in English too..) and because most of the scene exists in France, a French diskmag is the best way to learn news. Btw, perhaps some new interesting diskmags will be released from France or other countries, too. If you check Genesis8bit or my webpage THE CPC DEMOSCENE regularly, perhaps you will find news and link to download a new diskmag or another prod if it is released. (About other new mags, I am waiting for next Demoniak, but this will released too late, Ovation6, but there are not many news from Greece, perhaps a list of all Greek demos released and some other interesting stuff, The next BTL - 4 or 3? I don't remember :) - BOXON4, which I hope to be in English, and Eurostrad Papermag. Other famous papermags are Quasar, Another World and Amstrad Live. There are more, but I think that most of them are in French language only..)
My page about The CPC Demoscene! I had plans to make it like Ojuice and Hornet but about the CPC. This means, a big categorized list of all CPC demoscene productions (i.e. no games and stuff, it's dedicated to the Demo-scene of CPC not to the whole CPC community.. or at least for the beginning, perhaps later ...) with marks from 0.5 to 5 or more like Hornet, then I would like to put many other infos in it. For now I have included my favourite demos, demo screenshots, coding achievements, some news, links and other infos. I want to put a list of all the groups from old to new, active and inactive, I want to ask every scener there if he is active or inactive and do something like the people from Orange Juice (well, these are very future projects, and I want to do this, just to know who is active and who is not, to know the condition of the scene in every country, etc.). Perhaps in the future I will put infos about coding, tracking and drawing on CPC on the site, which tools exist for these things, perhaps some assembly tutorials, etc. So far, I haven't asked for the help of another scener, nor will I do this, except if someone offers help himself. I can do some things by myself. This summer or a little later, I hope to start making a group list, demo list (I will start watching some older or newer demos which I haven't seen and perhaps even write small reviews!) and a diskmag section where someone will be able to see infos about every diskmag, e.g. the language, release date, the contents of each and perhaps some little words about some articles. This will be very useful. I am also thinking about putting in the code section a list of the coding tutorials that exist in every diskmag there, so that someone will want to learn about, say, rasters, and he will know that there exist articles about that in 5 different diskmags, and he will download them to read the tutors, etc. Ok, enough said about my page, I think you can now see my future plans for it. It will help the CPC scene a lot, not only newcomers will learn more about it, but also older sceners will be able to read interesting infos about various things, search in the database for people, groups, demos, diskmags, etc.
Ok, enough. For more CPC links go to Scenet, to my page or to Genesis8bit and Ottolinks, which I mentioned above.
I think that I don't have anything else to write. I hope that newcomers will join our scene and that I will put much more infos in my CPC page, because I think that such a page can strengthen the CPC demoscene!
If you want to contact me for any reason, email me.
Michael Kargas aka Optimus/Dirty Minds